Every year our insurance renewal comes round and every year we find ourselves tearing our hair out, trying to find quotations, filling in endless questionnaires and basically wondering if this will be the year that we will not get a quote, meaning we will have to close the doors of our social enterprise. A social enterprise that happens to be an adventure park, a social enterprise that would have to lay off 27 full time equivalent staff, a social enterprise that has been instrumental in the regeneration of the town of Castlecomer and a key tourism destination for Kilkenny.
Since 2020 our insurance has gone up by 81% and is now an eyewatering substantial six figure sum. We were delighted to hear Bill Cremin of Cool Running Events / Zip It and Richie O’Hara of Baysports on RTE Radio One’s “This Week” programme, you could hear a pin drop in our office as we listened to fellow adventure providers lay out the huge challenges the sector is facing due to climbing insurance premiums and lack of competition in the market. Quite simply the sector is in CRISIS.
Bill wasn’t being alarmist when he outlined that outdoor adventure centres would be gone next year, and that both domestic and inbound tourists would find themselves with little to do except look at the Irish scenery. They would have no activities, no adventure parks, no water sports, no hiking to name a few. We know he is not being alarmist, because we know that we cannot go on paying these premiums, with additional issues with increased excesses and coverage levels.
We love being a social enterprise and we are very proud of our “build it and they will come” philosophy, we are very cognisant that a commercial operator would be very slow to set up an adventure park in a rural location like Castlecomer. That’s what makes social enterprise so special, its is fuelled by passion to address socio economic needs in an area, but without significant Government intervention all of that will be lost.
We operate in a sector that is quite expensive with equipment, certification and training, layer on sky high insurance and you have a serious problem. Safety is at the heart of everything we do, and we have an excellent claims record, so we ask the question why are we being penalised?
We support the Alliance for Insurance Reform’s objectives, especially the desire to “Redefine and re-balance the “common duty of care” to require the occupier to take a duty of care that is reasonable, practical and proportionate.
Please listen here to “This Week” for a good insight into the challenges we are facing. We made the decision not to increase our prices and pass them onto our visitors given the economic factors facing so many, however without significant intervention the more likely outcome is to close our doors.